Sunday, September 13, 2009

Social Media For Business — Why bother?

In my 24 years with Experient I have consistently been a driver when it comes to trying new technology, ideas or processes.  Some of my past and current colleagues would say I am a renegade at times. I don’t always play by the rules.  :)   When I am passionate about something, I push….. and I push hard!lightbulb brain

I have a reputation both inside and outside of my company for being an “early adopter” of most things technology driven.  My journey into the world of web 2.0 is no exception.  When I began my social media adventure earlier this year I was uncertain what business value this quest would bring.

By all accounts it has been an experiment.  In my previous experience there was no precedent, or expectations, as to the business results to be realized by utilizing these web applications.  There weren’t any operating manuals or established user guidelines within our company.  In fact many of the people I know felt it (social media) was a big waste of time.

So then what attracted me to this new world?  Well, a combination of things.  The economy was difficult, with no improvement in sight, and most of my clients, peers and business colleagues were struggling to keep their businesses afloat.  I foresaw a change coming in the business world at some level.  I could not put my finger on it, but my instincts told me it would involve leveraging the use of technology.

My realization a change was coming in the business world also led me to believe it was important to find a new niche for myself as a leader at Experient.  I felt that opportunity would come in the social media arena, as our company did not have a strong presence there.

So, I began experimenting with Facebook (February) and then LinkedIn soon after.  In mid March I attended an educational event hosted by the Midwest Chapter of PCMA focusing on social media.  The speaker, James Spellos, spoke about Twitter, among other things.  His prediction, that Twitter would become a huge force in Social Media, resonated strongly with me.  The very next day I set out to conquer Twitter… and my life is forever changed!

It took me about two weeks to figure out how to use Twitter.  One day the light bulb came on and I had an “Ah Hah” moment.  It all came together, and I became excited… really excited!! For nearly six months I have fully engaged myself in this world.  In that time I have learned far more than I could have possibly imagined.  And.. most importantly I have made some wonderful connections with people all over the world. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Lesson #1:  Social Media is a great relationship building and marketing tool, but it does not replace face2face interaction!  It is a channel to brand yourself and your company, by positioning yourself as a collaborator and supporter of community interest.
  • Lesson #2 — ROI in the SM world refers to “Return on Influence,” not “Return on Investment.” Relationships lead to opportunity and the strength and sincerity of your messaging in Social Media will drive your success in building them.
  • Lesson #3 — Social Media is not free… there is a cost, in time (labor) and energy.  You must structure and manage the time you spend in this arena or it will consume you!  The rest of your personal and business life must continue!
  • Lesson #4 — You have to give to get …. give a damn!  Be willing to communicate openly with people.  Share knowledge, information and ideas unselfishly with your followers and it will be returned to you tenfold in relationship currency.
  • Lesson #5 — Your reputation is your most important asset.  Making a mistake is forgivable.  Showing lack of concern for other people is notTrust wins over self-promotion.
  • Lesson #6 — Don’t expect immediate business results — If you are looking for a “quick sale” Social media is not the place you will most likely find it.  The process of building relationships is very granular and takes significant time, energy and commitment.

Over the past few months there have been countless blog articles, seminars and events all pointing to a dramatic change in the way people do business in the future.  I can not predict with 100% certainty as to how the business world will look one year, two years or even five years from now.  I do know this….. our society is moving towards a model of collaboration rather than bureaucracy, and every business person should be looking for ways to create community with their peers, vendor partners and customers.    At some level, social media will play a significant role in that evolution process.

Don’t be left behind…. get involved… step outside of your comfort zone…. take a breath…. and join the new community….!

Follow Michael McCurry on Twitter

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Swanwick September 14, 2009 at 10:33 am

As always, great insights.

The one facet that I would like to reverberate is that if you are looking to go beyond learning from reading and want to step into the world of relationship building then it is on you to reach out.

Turn a one way reading relationship into a two way “discussion”
Turn Twitter or fbook “discussions” into phone calls
Turn phone calls into f2f relationships

As you mention, give before you get, but if you are “putting credits in the bank”, don’t be afraid to ask your new friends for help when you need it. If they are good friends, they also will want to give.

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Michael M McCurry CMP September 14, 2009 at 11:51 pm

@Robert Swanwick,

Robert, you are so right…. the key word is “collaboration.”

At the end of the day it is those face2face interactions that matter the most.

I love the concept of a horizontal collaborative society versus the topdown bureaucracy we have all grown up in.

This has got to be healthy for all concerned! … except for the bureaucrats of course.

Thanks for contributing!

@michaelmccurry

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Meg Hasten September 14, 2009 at 10:41 am

Agree, great insights. SM is a HUGE commitment and needs to be treated as such with time and resources. I see too often people not recognizing the value in SM because they don’t know how to use it or use it poorly or too little. And as always, it’s all about building meaningful, symbiotic relationships.

Reply

Michael M McCurry CMP September 14, 2009 at 11:54 pm

@Meg Hasten,

thanks for your comments.

There is a time and learning investment to really discover what this world holds. You can’t just flip a switch and expect its all gonna come together.

Building relationships, some call “lifeline” is what its all about.

Once again thanks for the contribution!

@michaelmccurry

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